Precious shopper insights help Michael Hill perfect staff rostering

Michael Hill People Counting Case Study

Michael Hill | The Client

Michael Hill Jeweller is renowned for its original jewellery and watch designs and the quality of its craftmanship. Since founders Christine and Michael Hill opened their first store in the New Zealand town of Whangarei in 1979, the jewellery manufacturer and retailer has grown steadily.

Michael Hill listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in 1987, the same year it expanded into Australia, opening four stores in four weeks. In 2002, Michael Hill moved into Canada and, in 2008, the United States. Today, with 242 stores in Australia and Oceania, Michael Hill is well on the road to achieving its goal of taking the brand global and opening “1,000 stores by 2022.”

Michael Hill’s Business Challenge

With over 2,000 employees and stores throughout Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, Michael Hill Jeweller is a highly successful business by any measure. Yet the company recognised that refining its staff rostering to align employee levels more closely to actual shopper traffic patterns would make it better placed to achieve its ambitious growth target. With the clock ticking, it looked for a partner it could rely on to provide the accurate footfall data and business insights it needed.

The Solution

  • Experian FootFall Clarity counting system
  • Experian FootFall Delivered Reporting
  • Experian FootFall Interactive Reporting
  • Consultancy Services

How People Counting Helped Michael Hill Jeweller

  • Ability to match staff rostering more closely to store footfall
  • Conversion rate lifted significantly in some stores
  • At-a-glance reports encourage staff buy-in
  • Meaningful measurement of group and individual store performance
  • Greater understanding of shopper behaviour and traffic patterns
  • Payback expected in less than a year

Before starting work with Experian FootFall, Michael Hill stores routinely based their staffing levels on historical sales and transactional statistics, despite recognising that as the number of staff available to serve customers has a direct impact on sales, this was a ‘back to front’ approach. Their problem had been twofold: firstly, finding a counting system whose accuracy they could rely on and, secondly, gaining commercial insights that would justify the investment.

Michael Hill quickly found that the reliability of data is not an issue with Experian FootFall, which has built its business on the integrity of the data it manages for customers. Skilled analysts using leading software check store data daily to spot any anomalies quickly – for instance, undercounting, overcounting or communications problems – so the glitch can be corrected, saving stores from days or weeks of false readings. This was a key factor in the decision to choose Experian FootFall as Phil Taylor, chief financial officer for Michael Hill, explains, “The system wasn’t the cheapest but it was indisputably the most accurate and easiest to install.”

“Experian FootFall has worked closely with us to help us use the data in a way that would add shareholder value”

Phil Taylor, Chief Financial Officer, Michael Hill International

Experian FootFall worked closely with Michael Hill over many months to pinpoint the metrics that would deliver the greatest commercial value for the jeweller. Until now the company had been unable to identify the number of potential customers in store at any given time. Experian FootFall created tailored reports that, for the first time, showed the ratio of staff to customers in the store by half hour time period. This information has proved a gem, enabling managers to match staffing levels to demand.

Phil Taylor notes, “The reports have taken the guesswork out of rostering. It’s still early days but we’re already seeing some impressive results in stores where the Experian FootFall recommendations have been implemented. We’ve seen significant lifts in conversion rates year on year.”

The reports also allowed the jeweller to gain a true understanding of store and salesperson performance. While Michael Hill already measured basic transactional data such as sales revenue and average transaction value, without footfall figures to put these bald statistics in context, it had no idea of the scale of opportunities captured or missed. Now, armed with an accurate picture of shopper traffic at any given time of the day, Michael Hill can meaningfully evaluate store performance.

“It’s early days but we’re already seeing some impressive lifts in conversion rates year on year.”

Phil Taylor, Chief Financial Officer, Michael Hill International

Following encouraging trials, initially in four stores and eventually in 140 locations, Michael Hill was convinced of the value of the Experian FootFall analytics and made the decision to roll the system out to all of its 242 stores. Phil Taylor says, “We know in our hearts this is going to work, to the extent we have invested more than Australian $1m in our Experian FootFall solution. Based on the results we’ve seen so far – one store was able to generate a double digit increase in sales with fewer customers - we believe it will prove extremely worthwhile and anticipate payback in less than one year.”

Commenting on the growing relationship with Experian FootFall, Phil Taylor says, “Experian FootFall have been good partners to work with – they brought a lot of knowledge and intelligence to our discussions – and I feel we are building a long-term relationship. I like the way they work and have taken the trouble to gain a lot of knowledge about our business.”

Download the Michael Hill people counting case study in PDF

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